Market like a fintech: How to grow your brand with community marketing
Updated: Apr 28
'Market like a fintech' is the new podcast for fintech marketing professionals and enthusiasts who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry, and level up their marketing knowledge. Subscribe here to never miss an episode.
Market like a Fintech is a podcast on a mission to find out what marketing strategies and tactics the top Fintech companies in the industry use to acquire real customers, build a brand and grow revenue.
The host of the show is Araminta Robertson, a marketing consultant at Mint Studios and partner at the Fintech Marketing Hub.
In this pilot episode, Araminta spoke to Alex Latham, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Chip. Chip is the UK’s highest returning savings account. It’s an app that helps users save money automatically with AI. Every few days, Chip's algorithm calculates what you can afford to stash away based on your spending habits. It then transfers that money from your current account to your Chip account - automatically.
Chip is one of the biggest crowdfunded businesses in the UK with over 11,000 investors. They have a user base of over 300,000 active users who have saved over £150m. Last September, they raised £11m in just 3 days, making it the biggest crowdfund in Europe in 2020.
Alex was also recently recognised as one of the top 30 most influential fintech marketers of 2021 on our annual list and was just included in this year's 30 under 30 list by Forbes.
What’s Chip’s main strategy to enable viral growth, how they built a community of committed investors and what approach they’ve taken to maturing the Chip brand? To find out, listen to the show and check out the summary notes below.
From music to fintech: What does marketing a music company have in common with financial services?
Alex started his entrepreneurial journey straight after university. Along with a few other fellow students, he founded a musical social network called Melody Network, which he describes as a “complete failure”. But even though the venture wasn’t a success, it helped him realise that being an entrepreneur was the kind of thing he really wanted to do.
A few years later, at Glastonbury Festival, Alex noticed someone proudly waving a Monzo bank card around and that’s when his fintech journey began.
“I remember really vividly I was at Glastonbury Festival - it was the summer of 2016 – and someone I was with got out a Monzo card to pay with, and they were waving this card around. Like it was a flag – it was really surreal. And I remember thinking - it's so strange that someone can be showing off about who they're banking with. Like, it's something that's cool. And then it was just a realisation that was like, Oh my God, if someone's doing this, and showing off their cool bank, I think this thing fintech will be pretty huge. So, I looked into it more. And that's how I met Simon Raven, who is a co-founder at Chip and he was off the back of a startup that he just exited and looking to do fintech. And I wanted to do what that guy did, who was waving his Monzo card around…I wanted to build a fintech that people waved around too.”
So, what does marketing a music company have in common with financial services?
According to Alex, “when you're marketing musicians, you’re basically marketing a lifestyle” and modern-day fintechs are trying to do the same thing. At Chip, for example, they’re “trying to market the freedom that comes with savings and helping you save, and then other fintechs like Revolut are kind of marketing the lifestyle of being a global traveller and travelling around the world and having access to the world's financial products in hand.”
“Now we’ve started seeing that when banks and fintechs are selling their products, they're really selling the kind of the values and the mission and the lifestyles associated with using those products. And that’s what finance marketing is nowadays about – showing people living their best life and associate your brand with it. And even with influencer marketing, you're seeing kind of banks jumping on that bandwagon, and having influencers living their best life, but sponsored by or associated with a financial product. And I think you're going to see a lot more of that in the coming years as companies understand that it's not so much about the transaction of the product. But it's more about what does your product say about the customer? Like, what does the fact I'm a Chip customer say about me as a person?”
“Lifestyle marketing is becoming more prevalent, and big financial brands are going to start doing it more and more.”
At Chip you focused mostly on viral growth: what does that mean? And how did you engineer it?
About 60% of Chip’s growth to date has come from using viral mechanisms, or word of mouth. And Alex said that this involved 2 key elements: user experience and referrals.
“We focused on making the user experience of Chip as simple and as amazing as possible. We really like focused on what we call the “wow moment”, or at what point does someone really think “oh, my God, this is actually an amazing product”. And for us, we found out it was when someone has saved 120 pounds automatically on the platform.”
Referrals, however, were the tricky bit as “not many people go to the pub and tell their friends about a new savings product. It's not that cool.”
“We really wanted to tap into the kind of like, how can we intercept conversations about savings and really kind of encourage viral growth? And for us, it was about really understanding what people are saving for.”
“You want to put your brand in between the conversation the two people are naturally having. And that's when you really see viral growth take off. So, for example, Monzo, when they did the kind of like sending your money to your friends, and like how many times you hear people now say, “Just Monzo me 10 pounds” – that’s a classic example of where kind of a referral mechanism is intercepting to natural network effects and natural conversation. And it doesn't feel spammy. It just feels native. And I think that's really important.”
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When you first started Chip, what is the first marketing approach that had the most traction?
Alex describes Chip’s early days marketing efforts as “hustle”.
“It was really just a hustle…we emailed journalists constantly, we were on forums or on user groups, we are all over the place. We were trying to be as active as possible. And that, to be honest, was the kind of catalyst of Chip. We were just relentless on the internet and talking on personal finance forums and groups. And then eventually, just one by one things started picking up like. Until we got very lucky and one journalist who was writing an article for the BBC said, “Okay, I'll feature Chip”. So, Chip was given a two-line mention, I think, we got like 3000 customers in about six hours, it went crazy.”
But Chip’s actual “secret” to success has always been its community.
“We have 16,000 crowdfund investors who invested in Chip, and this community is really our secret sauce, and where most of our growth comes from. And, for example, any kind of any blog post we put out, automatically gets 16,000 eyeballs on it for our investors who are really passionate about our brand and then tell their friends about it. So for us, building our community has been the most important thing and it's not easy, and it's still to this day very, very difficult...maintaining them and making sure they're positive and that they've bought into the vision and direction of the business. But for us, that has been kind of the most important thing.”
How is the Chip brand maturing?
In terms of branding, Chip has introduced some major changes, lately, including removing the Chipbot, GIFs and improving UX. Chipmunks are now Chip's early adopters. The Sauce is now the Blog. Alex explained that the main reason for these changes was the maturing of the Chip brand.
“As we're scaling, we're looking to get used by more users across the UK, we want to be a mass-market proposition. And to do that, you have to accept that being trusted and being grown up in Britain is very important. I think, look at Cleo, a good example of a brand that is very, very cheeky, like, very snappy, but also I know, like Cleo has stopped marketing in the UK. They're just focused on the US. And I think that's probably a sensible strategy. Because if you're looking to be a truly mass market in the UK, you've got to address that trust factor. And for us, that maturing of the brand is really a step towards just really accelerating our trust metric.”
How did Chip get Martin Lewis to talk about its brand? And what’s the one marketing play that’s currently underutilised by fintech marketers? Listen to Alex’s complete story below.
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